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Another product of the indie pop hotbed of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, Wolfie's origins date to the fall of 1991, when bassist/singer Joe Ziemba and singer/guitarist Mike Downey first met in high school. Despite common musical interests, both played in separate bands for the next few years, with Downey soon joining drummer R.J. Porter in Plain Jane; at age 17, Ziemba also issued a self-released solo tape called Slackjawed. In 1995, he recruited both Downey and Porter to perform live in a band also called Slackjawed; originally a one-off project, the trio ended up releasing a pair of home recordings, with Downey also issuing the solo cassette A Fire Breathing Dinosaur by Tim. In late 1996, Ziemba's girlfriend, singer/keyboardist Amanda Lyons (who became Amanda Ziemba shortly thereafter), joined the group, and with her arrival the quartet rechristened themselves Wolfie. Debuting a year later with the single "Don't Turn It Off," in 1998 they released the effervescent full-length Awful Mess Mystery. Where's Wolfie followed in the spring of 1999; a year later, the group moved to the Kindercore label to issue the EP Wolfie & the Coat & Hat. The full-length Tall Dark Hill followed in 2001.